REVIEW album Kari Harneshaug We Were Closer To The End

A Dramatic Nordic Journey Through Fire & Ice

We Were Closer To The End

Kari Harneshaug

When Kari Harneshaug stands on stage, she neither commands the room with her physical presence nor does she glisten or sparkle under its dimmed lights. A slight, delicate, understated figure, she could almost be passed over. That is until the music begins, and she moves towards the microphone to start her set at Trondheim Calling.

Opening with "The Signs Have Been Telling Me" the first track on her latest album, ‘We Were Closer To The End’, within minutes she has the large crowd, tightly packed into the Dokkhuset venue transfixed. And that folks, is the kind of impact that this unique singer is capable of having when she reveals the weighty dramatic vocal behind her graceful elfin presence.

Kari Harneshaug has just released her third album, ‘We Came Closer to The End’, an eight track compilation of eclectic compositions ranging from the romantically sublime to dramatically theatrical, and from the starkly vivid to enticingly evocative. Masterfully produced by top producer/mixer Karl Klaseie of Snøskred fame, in his renowned Greener Studios, this is a sonically intriguing collection of imaginative, and deeply emotive, self-penned songs.

Album opener, "The Signs Have Been Telling Me" is an hypnotic ballad that showcases Harneshaug’s ability to give a powerful yet understated delivery – the art of which she has perfectly mastered. Conversely, "For Our Love" is all about theatrics! A song of contrasts – gentle, spacious repetitive piano chords are spliced by lightning bolts of guitar, played by producer Klaseie; gorgeously light and airy passages of synth and wind are overshadowed by the darkness of the lyric.

And in the middle of it all, is Kari’s extravagant vocal – resonant, deliberate and mock-tragic with a bite. Songs like this allow Harneshaug to flex her vocal muscle, which she does with perfectly controlled vigour. "For Our Love" is pure musical theatre – dramatic, captivating and intriguing.

"For Our Love" was released as a single late last year, as was the next track, "Wild One", a slow Country/Americana style ballad that revolves around repetitive guitar sequences swirling gently under the vocal ebb and flow of Harneshaug’s emotional tides. It glides slowly and softly, like a piece of music from one of the dreamier sequences of a Twin Peaks soundtrack, with its drawly, languid guitars and emotive vocal.

This tranquil bubble is dramatically burst with the abrupt introduction of a searing, jagged electric guitar sequence, which can only be described as the musical equivalent of being electrocuted. Is this fierce, albeit brief, musical storm an allusion to the emotional conflict and distress conveyed in the lyrics? Maybe this clever piece of musical theatrics is a reference to the pain caused by the knife piercing Harneshaug’s bones? Who knows!

Kari Harneshaug has an astonishing voice, capable of exercising great depth and strength as well as fragile delicateness. She is mistress of her vocal instrument, controlling it with a vice like grip – breath, tone, pitch –all perfectly balanced. Someone who knows and is confident in, her own vocal power, Kari perfectly understands how and when to rein it in, or use its full force.

Standout of the album is "Lower my Eyes", a cheeky little bluesy-jazz number which sees the Snøskred pairing of Klaseie and Laastrad produce the best instrumental moments of the album. Emotionally powerful with a dramatic build, under which lie some deliciously playful synth chords, this song is a classy affair in which Harneshaug gives her strongest vocal performance. Driven, assertive, evocative and provocative, it exemplifies both Kari’s performance and song-writing strengths.

A Nordic adventure through fire and ice, ‘We Were Closer To The End’ is a vividly engrossing compendium of highly charged, sonically engaging and vocally unique journeys brought to life through the most unique and ingenious techniques.

It is a striking soundtrack to a series of dramatic scenes acted out through artfully arranged instrumental accompaniments and wonderfully interpreted vocal deliveries. If you like drama, passion, remarkable sonic imagery, and raw emotion, you will be a fan of Kari Harneshaug’s songs.

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